Regal Scotland revel in their crowning moment at Murrayfield as England scalp taken once more

Van der Merwe moves one try behind Hogg in record stakes on a majestic evening in capital

Queen Victoria was on the throne the last time Scotland beat England four years in a row in the Six Nations championship and there was something rather regal about the way Gregor Townsend’s side equalled that achievement at Murrayfield on Saturday evening.

They played with their heads up, none more so than Finn Russell whose ability to rise above the chaos is priceless. The crowning glory was a hat-trick from Duhan van der Merwe, the first Scot to achieve that feat in this fixture, and the big Edinburgh winger will be toasted the length of the country after his stunning treble. He has now scored 26 Test tries and only Stuart Hogg, on 27, has scored more for Scotland.

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The 30-21 victory reignites Townsend’s side's campaign with two rounds remaining. They now sit second in the table on nine points, six behind Ireland who beat Wales on Saturday, and one ahead of England. Fourth-placed France, who play Italy on Sunday, are on four points.

Scotland's Co-Captains Finn Russell, left, and Rory Darge, right, lift the Calcutta Cup after the win over England.Scotland's Co-Captains Finn Russell, left, and Rory Darge, right, lift the Calcutta Cup after the win over England.
Scotland's Co-Captains Finn Russell, left, and Rory Darge, right, lift the Calcutta Cup after the win over England.

Scotland's next assignment is a trip to Rome in a fortnight where an away win would set up a final-day showdown with Ireland in Dublin on St Patrick's weekend.

That's for the future. The here and now is appreciating the mastery this side has achieved in this fixture. Townsend really has England's number. Scotland hadn't beaten them for 10 years when he took charge of his first Calcutta Cup match as head coach in 2018 but they have lost just one in seven under his watch. Scotland last beat England four times on the bounce between 1970 and 1972 but that included a victory in the 1971 centenary international. This was and first time in the championship since 1896.

The result was celebrated noisily inside the stadium by a partisan home support whose appreciation has been heightened by long, lean spells against the English. Dr James Robson, Scottish Rugby’s chief medical officer who is to retire after more than 30 years in the sport, was given the honour of lifting the silverware and he was hoisted high on Pierre Schoeman's shoulders.

Townsend spoke last week about his own miserable record as a player against England: just one win in 10 for the most gifted of his generation. Such has been the turnaround in his reign that Scotland began Saturday's game as odds-on favourites, an unprecedented state of affairs. They lived up to the billing. They were clinical, particularly in the first half when they made only two incursions into the England 22 but came away with 14 points. Huw Jones was excellent, playing a key role in both.

Duhan van der Merwe scores the first of his three tries for Scotland against England.Duhan van der Merwe scores the first of his three tries for Scotland against England.
Duhan van der Merwe scores the first of his three tries for Scotland against England.

This is certainly not a vintage English side but they were good enough to finish third at the recent World Cup and were two from two in the Six Nations coming into this game. They started on the front foot and the hosts looked a little discomfited in the early stages

Scotland were slow out the blocks, sluggish and careless, and England made them pay. The Scots conceded a free kick at their own put-in and England opted to scrum again. George Furbank, brought in to provide a cutting edge in attack, duly delivered as a perfectly executed move off the back of the scrum punched a hole in the Scots defence and ended with the full-back scoring. Kudos to Elliot Daly for sucking in his opponents. George Ford converted then added a penalty to make it 10-0.

In between, Scotland lost Zander Fagerson to an HIA, triggered by a mouthguard alert. The prop looked frustrated but was duly replaced by Elliot Millar-Mills before reappearing 10 minutes later.

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It had been a bright start by England but a very ordinary first 15 for Scotland who were struggling to get over halfway. That all changed with two tries in 10 minutes from van der Merwe, who just seems to love this fixture. The first came from a Scottish scrum. Russell was missed out on this occasion and the ball went straight from Ben White to Sione Tuipulotu who fed Jones. The outside centre pinned his ears back and headed for the line before being clobbered by Furbank and Tommy Freeman. He managed to offload to the supporting van der Merwe who sold England a delightful dummy before scoring.

The early skirmishes had been marked by dropped balls and knock-ons and a terrible fumble by Furbank opened the door for van der Merwe to bag his second. The England full-back spilled it into the hands of Jones who smartly moved it on to his winger. Van der Merwe was close to his own 40-metre line when he took the ball but no-one was catching him as he sped to the line for his second. Russell, who’d converted the first, knocked the second over from the touchline and added a penalty four minutes later to edge the Scots 17-10 ahead.

Ford, calmness personified, reduced the deficit with a drop goal before the interval.

Scotland lost Tuipulotu to injury after 30 seconds of the second half but his replacement, Cam Redpath, had an immediate impact jinking his way up to the England 22 after a lineout steal by the home side. The Scots recycled and Russell – always alive to the opportunity – picked out van der Mewe with a perfectly judged cross-kick. The bounce was kind to the big winger who collected and powered through for his hat-trick try.

Again, Russell nailed the conversion from the corner but England came flying back and Ford landed his second penalty of the game. Not to be outdone, so too did Russell to make it 27-16 going into the final quarter.

The Scotland 10 had been immaculate off the tee all championship and he extended their lead with a long-range penalty but any feelings of this game being done and dusted were quickly quashed by England’s second try. It was a sharp piece of play from Immanuel Feyi-Waboso but a defensive nightmare from a Scottish point of view as Redpath gave the replacement winger the freedom of Murrayfield to score down the blindside. Fin Smith, on for Ford, struck the post with the conversion and Scotland’s lead was now 10 points.

They saw out the rest of the game with an impressive steeliness.